Barney Frank, Stand-up Congressman


Barney Frank was a laugh a minute during his speech at The New Republic’s inaugural shindig, where he spoke with Rahm Emanuel, Larry Summers, and TNR editor Marty Peltz. “It was a little confusing downstairs,” Frank said. “As we were coming up someone said, ‘Who’s first?’ And the answer was, ‘the arrogant Jewish guy,’ and nobody knew who they meant.” Afterward, we had a wonderful encounter with Frank in the lobby:

Barney Frank:
Here, meet my boyfriend, Jim. He’s from Maine. [Jim Ready is a strapping 39-year-old who owns an awning company and loves to surf. Frank has done extremely well for himself.]
NYM: Nice to meet you, Jim. Congressman Frank, Rahm Emanuel said you insisted on playing good-cop bad cop during late-night negations on the financial regulatory legislation. But he refused to say which cop you played.

BF: I think I was more the good cop.
NYM: How do you play good cop?
BF: You can’t talk about negotiations, because then the next time, people are very wary of you. Negotiations have to be kept quiet.
NYM: What do you think about Rick Warren being he official clergyman of the inauguration?
BF: I was very critical of that. I thought it was a great mistake. Obviously, you should have the conversation, but I don’t think making him the most honored clergyman in America is a good idea. On the other hand, the request to Bishop Robinson to speak at the opening ceremony was a gracious acknowledgment, I think, that the president-elect had underestimated the hurt he was causing to people he didn’t want to hurt. I think it was an appropriate response.
NYM: Will Congress be more fun now you have liberal colleagues to hang out with?
BF: I’m a great admirer of Larry Summers, but he’s there for his policy, not for his… cheerfulness.
NYM: What did you think of your Saturday Night Live impersonation?
BF: I’m struck by the fact that it’s Fred Armisen, who also does Obama. I would not have thought we were very similar.
NYM: Did you think he captured you?
BF: He did seem to get the thing I do with my hands.
Jim: It was good because they were just playing him, not making fun of him.
BF: Back in the Clinton impeachment they did a scene and the next morning I went to Maxine Waters and I said, “Hey, did you see us portrayed on Saturday Night Live?” She said, “How was it?” And I said, “Well, I was very upset, because I thought the guy that played me was very ugly. But the guy who played you was even uglier!” She said, “What?” I said, “You’d better look at it.”
NYM: A man played her?
BF: Yes. A guy in a wig played me. He was a fat guy. Horatio Sanz, I think.
NYM: You know he just lost 100 pounds.
BF: I wish it had been before he was playing me!